Finally, the day has come and departure to your favorite camping spot is only minutes away. You have the dog, kids, tents, sleeping bags, everything on your list, and its off to the mountains.
Anticipation builds as you pull into your spot.
But wait, something isnt right. The pristine spot you left last summer is strewn with dirty diapers, cans and bottles. Its a disaster.
Unfortunately, its becoming an all-too-common occurrence in the mountains. No one likes litter, and nearly everyone disposes of it properly. You can do your part by minimizing waste and keeping a clean camp.
And also remember camping should be relaxing, so you want to keep things simple and safe to make the experience more fun with the kids.
As an avid camper and father of three boys, let me share a few tips:
Get rid of excess packaging before you leave. Juice boxes fit nicely inside a cooler. Leave the bulky cardboard box at home to recycle. The less packaging you bring, the less waste you have to pack out.
Bring canned beverages instead of glass. Smash the empty cans and put them in a separate sack from your garbage so you can recycle them at home.
If you have little ones, bring a diaper pail, they are indispensable.
Pack an air-tight container for food waste and empty it when you arrive home. Burying garbage doesnt work. Animals will dig it up.
Pop-up hampers also make great garbage cans. Line them with a sturdy bag, zip them shut so it keeps the critters out, and if the pop-up hamper gets dirty, simply hose it off when you get home.
For dishwashing, bring three buckets or nesting washtubs. One is for hot water with a few drops of biodegradable soap. Another is for clear, hot water to rinse with, and the final is for cold water with a capful of bleach to kill bacteria.
KEEP THE KIDS ACTIVE
The words Im bored should never be heard in camp. Remember to involve your kids in everything you do. Let them help set up the tent, or gather dry kindling for the fire.
Chores, such as dishes, will not be a bother if everyone helps.
Also, make camping a learning time. Buy an astronomy guide and star gaze to see how many constellations you can find. Believe me, its fun.
Perhaps an animal or bird guide is more up your alley.
Play a game to see who can correctly name every critter that crosses their path.
Outdoor games go a long way to keep kids busy. Frisbee, ring toss and many other small, fun games are out there.
Of course there is always the reliable deck of cards. Uno, Phase 10 or other novelty card games are very family-oriented and excellent ways to unwind at night.
The key to successful camping is keep it simple and fun, and common sense goes a long way in your preparation.
And remember to leave your camp spot better than you found it. It shows respect for others and Mother Nature as well, and it will be a campsite you look forward to returning to later.